Sri Lanka's 14th Prime Minister Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 April 2004, 05:20 GMT]
Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse Tuesday morning was sworn in as the Sri Lanka's fourteenth Prime Minister. President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge administered the oath of secrecy to the new Prime Minister at an event held in the Presidential Secretariat, Presidential secretariat sources said.
Mr Mahinda Rajapakse (58) is a senior leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and currently the co-national organizer of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA). The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is the other major constituent of the UPFA, which was formed during the latter part of January this year to oust the United National Front government from power, sources said.
Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge earlier favored her International Advisor Mr.Lakshman Kadirgamar but later caved in to pressure from a powerful section of the Buddhist clergy that a Buddhist who won the confidence of the Maha Sangha should be appointed as the Prime Minister, political sources said.
The JVP (Peoples Liberation Front) also insisted on the appointment of Mr.Kadirgamar to the PM post, sources said.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse held the post of the Leader of Opposition in the dissolved 12th parliament last year. He held two ministerial portfolios in the PA government, first as Minister of Labour and later as Minister of Fisheries. He also held the Portfolio of the Ports and Shipping for a short period of three months.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, an educated lawyer, entered Sri Lankan politics in 1968 at an age of 22.
He was elected to the thirteenth parliament held last week from the Hambantota electoral district in the southern province topping the preference votes with 107,603, sources said. He was first elected to Parliament from the Beliatta seat in 1970. His father, D. A. Rajapaksa had represented the same seat from 1947 to 1965.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse is a devout Buddhist and was honoured with the title of "Sri Rohana Janaranjana" by the venerable Malwatte Chapter in 2000.